Saint Patrick’s season is finally winding down in the Garden State.
While typing here now with Saoirse the dog at foot and Irish radio from Fordham filling the Saturday morning air of the house, war pipers and marchers are tuning up for a parade in the Highlands next to the Atlantic Ocean.
Tomorrow they march in green in Bayonne.
But I am done.
New Jersey, with it is 20-plus St. Patrick’s parades, has none of the drama and controversy of Boston or New York but it was busy enough.
Late February greeted us with a lighted shamrock reflecting green off the dark bay in Ship Bottom as we escaped to some winter peace on a sleeping Long Beach Island.
Soon after, the Irish wave of the year crested with musical, bodiless “wakes” and other fundraising parties.
The first parade stepped off in Nutley on the first of March. Belmar’s celebration followed the next day. The Ocean County parade in Seaside Heights had brilliant weather the Saturday after.
Perhaps it is age or a slowly learned bit of wisdom, but it was a quieter season for me this year and I gave that first weekend a pass.
A week later, Honey Badger’s clan and we did enjoy watching the Woodbridge parade take a Sunday stroll past the brother-in-law’s house. Then it was straight home.
We did make a day of it in our home place. The wife and I kilted up and began with a fine breakfast with the lads of the Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums.
Then it was a good march down a crowd-lined Morris Avenue in warm sunshine with dear friend Bobby Jeans proudly serving as Grand Marshal.
St. Patrick’s Day itself was a fairly quiet affair.
Honey Badger went to work and I missed Mass at the Knights of Columbus but managed an Irish fry at the Blackthorn. There I found a few gents originally from the west of Ireland going on about the GAA games not showing on the television. We only had the New York parade on the screens without sound.
In the late afternoon it was corned beef (my first taste of it all season) with the senior citizens and friends at the veterans center. When I wasn’t jamming the juke box with Irish songs, Honey Badger played the war pipes for the crowd.
Then it was done and home by eight o’clock.
As I once heard Luka Blooms say about life in Ireland after the crash of the Celtic Tiger; it is back to regular programming.
That’s grand with me. I’m am happy enough with the New York Irish papers on Wednesdays, the music of the Irish on WFUV each weekend, local trad sessions on Sunday afternoons and watching the Gaelic games with the lads from the west of Ireland in a pub in New Jersey.